By now you should know that you are responsible for your own safety and should have a personal defense plan of your own. An important extension of that is the family defense plan where you make plans for dealing with the bad things that my befall your household. An important part of the family defense plan is including the children in the discussions and planning.
For most of our history, and certainly during the days of the American frontier, children played an important part in the work and preparations of the family. Just like the adults, they had their daily chores and, during times when the homestead was under attack, they did their part to protect and defend. Kids too young to shoot learned to cast bullets, haul water, apply first aid, and render whatever other help that they were able to.
Parents should not underestimate their children's ability to comprehend and act. When I was a young policeman, I would ask an adult about a suspect vehicle and get told that it was a blue truck. So I would go find some 10-11 year old boys playing in a nearby yard. “Sir, do you mean that 1970 Ford F150 truck with the custom metallic blue paint job, mag wheels and the 'Give Peace A Chance' sticker on the back?”
“Thank you, son. That is exactly the one that I had in mind.”
Too often, when we think of any kind of a defense plan, we think of having to shoot bad guys. However, the true family defense plan ought to cover a whole lot more. Besides dealing with bad guys, we have to consider what to do in case of a house fire, tornado, flood. In short, we have to consider and plan for any man-made or natural event that could threaten the safety of our family and home. The kids have a stake in all of that and ought to be in on the discussion and planning.
When kids are involved in the discussion and planning of the family defense plan, it is amazing what they will remember and suggest. In the case of a house fire, they can remember which window that they are supposed to crawl out of and which neighbor's house that they can go to for help and safety. Even relatively young children can learn how to dial 9-1-1 and they can learn when it is appropriate to do so. Making them aware of potential problems and giving them a job to do when that problem occurs makes them feel like a part of the team.
You, of course, are the best judge of your child's maturity and level of comprehension. Give them tasks that they can understand and jobs that you know they are capable of performing. And, by all means, if you have guns in your home, give them the gun safety knowledge and training needed to avoid a tragedy. If you need help in the area of gun safety, contact the NRA for programs that are specifically aimed at teaching gun safety to kids.
And don't overlook the various crimes that focus on children as the victims. Children should understand what can happen to them and what they can do about it. They need to know what to look for, how to avoid it, and where to go if they have to get away from it. Instead of ignoring a potential problem because it might adversely effect the child, you help give them a plan and knowledge. And, in this case, knowledge is truly power.
Too often we men tend to think of ourselves as the head of the house and the protector of all that is within. And, while that is important, we should never think of the rest of our family as being poor, helpless souls who are incapable to planning and protecting. This is nearly always a mistake and a waste of resources. When trouble arises, will it be one person facing it alone or will you be able to activate the whole family team to deal with it?
A really worthwhile New Year's resolution would be to start holding family defense meetings in your household. Broaden the scope to include discussions about all of the bad things that might threaten your family. And, by all means, include the kids.
Happy New Year from the author, and NRA Family!